Insects are dropping like flies

Butterflies are disappearing © Leo Vaes

According to a Dutch study, bugs are dying out. Belgium is facing the same problem, according to Hendrik Moeremans, the spokesperson for Natuurpunt, an organization that protects nature in the Dutch speaking part of the country. Moeremans: ‘The foundation of our ecosystem is dying out.’

Moeremans: We don’t have any data for Belgium specifically, but what we’re seeing in the surrounding countries is that the insect population is dying out. The Dutch research that came out recently talked about a 76 percent decline in the insect population over a thirty year period. German scientists had similar findings.

Suffering more

In Belgium, the research focuses mostly on biodiversity rather than biomass (the number of species rather than the total amount). Moeremans: ‘Our findings in populations of wild bees, moths and beetles so far suggest that bugs in Belgium are suffering even more than in the surrounding countries.’
Though many people may be pleased with the initial decline in bugs, Moeremans believes that Belgium is facing a huge problem. ‘We rely on insects for pollination. If they’re gone, the same will happen to our food. We’re already losing bird species like the partridge because they usually eat ladybirds and beetles, who are endangered or extinct.’

Misleading wolves

The message seems conflicting with other recent news. Wolves and beavers have returned to parts of Belgium and the wild boar population is so large, it’s becoming a menace. Moeremans: ‘It’s good that those animals are returning, but we also have to realize that their presence only tells us that a certain area is doing well. Bugs can be found everywere, so they tell us more about the overall health of an ecosystem, since they live everywhere.’

What the country needs is a more diverse environment and less chemicals. Moeremans: ‘Even students can play a part in that. They could request more plants and flowers on their campus, for instance. Or they could opt for biologically sources fruit and vegetables.’


Photo: Leo Vaes via Natuurpunt
Text: Alexandra Heinen